The Republicans have had a love affair with Rand for a long time:
In the 1950s, serious Christians kept their distance from Rand. So did mainstream Republicans. The father of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley, was contemptuous of her, and the pages of his magazine, National Review, were anything but kind to her views.
But Rand has since been elevated to a central figure in conservatism. Business moguls have embraced her because of her frank worship of wealth. “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue,” she said. And her contempt for government, with its regulations and taxation, was just what America’s reckless and self-centered class of business executives wanted to hear.
It’s harder to figure out how Rand came to be embraced by conservative Christians, however. Last year, the late Charles Colson made a video denouncing Rand and warning his fellow Republicans against elevating her philosophy. “It’s hard to imagine a world view more antithetical to Christianity,” he said.
The Romney campaign is going to begin allowing the traveling press corps to attend a Mormon service each week with the Romneys from now through the election. Buzzfeed’s intrepid McKay Coppins (who is also a Mormon) wrote about attending a service with the Romneys yesterday, as a member of the first group of traveling pool reporters allowed to do so:
“Shortly after entering the chapel, Mitt and Ann filed into an aisle with their son Tagg, his wife, and their six children, while a handful of reporters took seats in the back of the chapel. As my colleagues surveyed their unremarkable surroundings, they commented on how unremarkable it all looked: a generic high-ceilinged room full of nondescript parishioners. What I saw, though, was a slice of Mormon Americana — a buffet of congregational quirks that any Latter-day Saint would recognize.”
Coppins goes onto detail a bit of the service: hymns, bread and water passed out to the congregation which instead of calling it communion, Coppins describes it as “the ordinance, which represents repentance for past sins and a renewed commitment to avoid them in the future. It’s a key tenet of Mormonism — this notion of constant spiritual course-correction.” The speakers at this service were from the Marriott family (THE Marriotts? Probably.). Ann sang with some other women… and it was all so very average and normal (or unremarkable, generic, and nondescript as Coppins describes it). NOTHING TO SEE HERE, FOLKS.
It’s interesting that McKay Coppins didn’t mention that a Mormon chapel (church, temple) won’t have any crosses or crucifixes — and maybe that’s what struck the other reporters (if they were used to Protestant or Catholic churches)? Or maybe they did remark on that fact. Or maybe not. And maybe Coppins wouldn’t even be aware that might seem odd to Protestants and Catholics.
In place of crosses, apparently there will be other symbols found, and usually (always?) the golden Angel Moroni with the trumpet. Many sites online make these other symbols sound like a huge conspiracy theory, by the way — masonic, pagan, occult — but that’s said about symbols in Catholic and Protestant churches as well. And, to me, that’s interesting.
If anyone reading this is a practicing Mormon, please verify the “no crosses / crucifixes” thing. I’m almost sure that’s true. I’ve tried to find out why there would be no crosses / crucifixes in Mormon churches (and why Mormons do not wear crosses or crucifixes) and all I can find are two explanations: 1) the cross symbolizes Jesus Christ’s death and Mormons prefer to focus on the resurrected Christ; and 2) Mormons believe Christ’s atonement happened in the Garden of Gethsemane and not on the cross. Maybe there’s another / better reason?
I realize Coppins works for Buzzfeed (one of Romney’s online PR firms) but it seems like he would do his readership, the Romneys, and other Mormons a service by explaining differences like this one to non-Mormons, instead of trying to completely white-out the service as something really super average and generic. Like he’s trying to say, See? Mormonism is almost like nothing happened at all…
“This isn’t really a problem with Paul Ryan; it’s a problem with a distinctively American brand of conservative evangelicalism. The aspiring VP can live with a glaring contradiction because his constituency shares his passion for Antichrist ideas. The Sunday School teachers of evangelical America can give you 101 clever reasons why Jesus didn’t really mean what he said about money, power, humility, forgiveness, sacrificial love or politics. The conservative movement dominates American politics because it has cobbled together a simple, internally coherent philosophy rooted in selfishness, pride, radical individualism, nationalism, militarism, and faith in the free market. If you are familiar with Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, you will recognize this as the religion of Antichrist … or if you prefer, Satan. If you aren’t familiar with the words of Jesus, half an hour with the nearest Bible should remedy the problem. Find the part called “New Testament” and start reading.” — Why Paul Ryan doesn’t have an Ayn Rand problem (via azspot)
Until the wholesale rightwing nutjob attack on the President’s religion and birthplace stops influencing the mainstream opinion of average Americans, a discussion of Mitt Romney’s religion and beliefs should not be off limits. In fact, there should be more open discussion of Romney’s religion, since it’s been one of the most important parts of his entire life. Especially now with Romney’s new ad “Be Not Afraid” which questions President Obama’s ‘beliefs’ and the now familiar conservative theme of “us and him” separation — the dog-whistling racist implication of the “otherness” of Obama and how he doesn’t share “our values,” how Obama has declared a “war on religion” with health care reform. And how Mitt Romney believes “that’s wrong.” And that Romney is the one to choose when “religious freedom is threatened.” What. Total. Horseshit.
Let’s talk about a couple of things regarding Mitt Romney and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
The Dark Side of Mitt Romney | Vanity Fair – ”But a dichotomy exists within the Mormon Church, which holds that one is either in or out; there is little or no tolerance for those, like so-called cafeteria Catholics, who pick and choose what doctrines to follow. And in Mormonism, if one is in, a lot is expected, including tithing 10 percent of one’s income, participating regularly in church activities, meeting high moral expectations, and accepting Mormon doctrine—including many concepts, such as the belief that Jesus will rule from Missouri in his Second Coming, that run counter to those of other Christian faiths. That rigidity can be difficult to abide for those who love the faith but chafe at its strictures or question its teachings and cultural habits. For one, Mormonism is male-dominated—women can serve only in certain leadership roles and never as bishops or stake presidents. The church also makes a number of firm value judgments, typically prohibiting single or divorced men from leading wards and stakes, for example, and not looking kindly upon single parenthood.”
“Bishop is the highest priesthood office of the Aaronic priesthood in the Latter Day Saint movement, and is leader of the Aaronic priesthood in a given ward or congregation. It is almost always held by one who already holds the Melchizedek Priesthood office of high priest and who serves as the leader of a local congregation of church members. The Latter Day Saint concept of the office differs significantly from the role of bishops in other Christian denominations, being in some respects more analogous to a pastor or parish priest. Each bishop serves with two counselors, which together form a bishopric.
“[...] In the largest Latter Day Saint denomination, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), bishops are called from among the members of a local congregation, known as a ward, and traditionally serve, without pay, for four to seven years (the actual length of service can vary). A bishop must be a married high priest in the Melchizedek priesthood. The bishop acts as the Presiding High Priest of the ward. A bishop simultaneously serves as the president of the Aaronic priesthood and president of the Priests Quorum in the ward. [...] The calling of each bishop must be approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…”
The question is: if elected, can Mitt Romney separate his religious beliefs from his secular duties in the office of President? Can he protect our country’s principle of ‘freedom of religion’ — meaning everyone has a right to their beliefs, even if their beliefs are not similar to Romney’s — meaning the government cannot tell you to worship God if you don’t or, if you do, how to worship God. The government cannot mandate you be a Sikh, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, or Mormon — the government cannot legislate you to believe that Jesus will return to rural Missouri, that you’ll get your own planet in the afterlife, or that wearing underwear marked with freemasonry symbols will protect you from the evils of the world (and the “others”).
If Romney wants to pretend that a mandate in the Affordable Care Act to include birth control in insurance plans (with the caveat that Churches in opposition do not have to pay for the mandate) is a “threat to religious freedom,” then I think it’s fair to wonder if that opinion is based in Republican political ideology or in Romney’s personal religious beliefs. And IF it’s based in his religious beliefs, what else might he impose on the rest of us from the Book of Mormon?
“Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society. At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the ‘dependency’ of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently.” — The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), a Catholic faith-based advocacy and civic engagement organization, strongly criticizing Mitt Romney’s recent ads and rhetoric regarding welfare programs and welfare recipients. (via: azspot)
I would imagine, but I couldn’t say for sure, that this Christian tradition is similar between Mormons and Catholics. But the political agendas of Romney and Ryan — both of whom profess to be Mormon and Catholic, respectively — are not inspired by any of the teachings of Jesus Christ, as far as I can see.
It seems like Christianity only matters to far-right conservatives when they can use it as a weapon against a political enemy. Sometimes atheists can also be found wearing sheep’s clothing.
Obviously as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Bachmann should ask that she be investigated by the various IGs, along with anyone else who signed onto Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge / secret Muslim agenda:
“Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist helped the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrate the U.S. government, according to the report that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) cited in an attack on top State Department aide Huma Abedin.
“Earlier this month, Bachmann and four other Republicans sent a letter to inspectors general in the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice departments calling on them to investigate “potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration” of the Obama administration by [Huma] Abedin, an aide to Secretary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
“As evidence of their claims, the five Republicans cited “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” a ten-part video course produced by the Center for Security Policy.
“The movies claim that the “Muslim Brotherhood was helped in its efforts to achieve information dominance over the George W. Bush administration” by Norquist, a Christian. The influential anti-tax activist is also accused of using “various organizations to promote Islamist agendas.”
“Nearly every Republican in Congress has signed Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, vowing to oppose any and all tax increases. Only 14 Republican members of 112th Congress have refused to sign the pledge.”
Michele Bachmann signed it. Apparently there are only 14 Republicans who are not in league with Norquist. That’s a lot of infiltration if you ask me.
And, let’s be honest, it’s like a sick joke on the entire nation that Bachmann is a member of something called the “House Intelligence Committee” to begin with — like a big “pull my finger” to every American from the GOP.
Vote some of these nutjobs out of office in November.
President Obama’s religious beliefs have been a major issue for teagelicals for over three years now. Raw Story reports that one in five Republicans believe the president is a Muslim: “18 percent of Republicans believed Obama was Muslim, even though the President is a church-going Christian. Both Obama’s religion and his birthplace have been points of controversy in his public career, Gallup noted. These data show that in terms of his religion, most Americans do not adhere to the belief that he is a Muslim. However, the fact that almost one in five Republicans do hold this belief suggests the potential for continuing controversy on this issue in the months ahead.”
Related: Mitt’s Mormon army mobilizes
Note: The Angel Moroni is a registered trademark of the LDS Church.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, was scheduled yesterday to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution. 90 faculty members and administrators sent him a letter about his budget:
“I am afraid that Chairman Ryan’s budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Father Thomas Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, in a press release Tuesday. “Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love.”
The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand, who believed altruism is evil, brushing off his well-documented obsession with her as a teenage romance.
Did Paul Ryan JUST NOW discover Ayn Rand was an atheist – and a hateful, selfish, hypocritical one at that? Or did he just now discover what Jesus actually taught? Apparently so. This week, Paul Ryan’s did a big ol’ flip flop on his well-known, well-documented hero worship of Rand, as Catholic organizations, educators, and leaders started calling bullshit on Ryan for claiming to be a Christian AND a huge fan of Ayn Rand.
As one example, here’s what he said in 2005:
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
Ryan also said
“…that virtually every national struggle our society faces can be boiled down to the Randian binary, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict–individualism versus collectivism.”
But here’s what he said THIS WEEK:
I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
Say hello to the new and improved Paul Ryan! Ayn Rand isn’t politically expedient this week, so no more conflict of interest.
Note also that many tea partiers and rightwing bloggers, who would call themselves religious people, worship at the feet of Ayn Rand and Objectivism for political purposes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the most xenophobic, mindlessly hateful bloggers for the right has named her site after Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged.”
So will Paul Ryan’s sudden philosophical conversion change his perspective with regard to his budget proposal? Not at all. He told a Christian tv show that his budget was practically endorsed by the Pope himself, who is down on debt:
James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which organized one of the protests outside the hall where Ryan was speaking, told gathered reporters that his group was there because “the dignity of the poor should be at the forefront of our minds.” Taking a dig at Ryan’s attempts to cast his budget as a boon for poor people, Salt noted, “If Paul Ryan knew what poverty was, he wouldn’t be giving this speech.”